Ok, I've never skied Stratton but I will be going soon. Anybody have any local advice to offer? Strategies to maximize the experience there or things to avoid? Can't miss trails? Don't bother trails?
Your best bet is to only use the gondola first thing. Most of the time the gondi line will be much longer than anything else on the mountain. It is not worth skiing top to bottom to use the gondola. The main area of Stratton has a clear upper section and lower section. Generally, it will be quicker to ride the American Express HS6 out of the base and then ski to the URSA HS6 to get to the top. The Sunbowl area is a separate section with its own parking and base lodge.
In the main section there are 3 upper lifts. The Ursa HS6 will be the most crowded. However, even with a full corral, the longest I have waited is about 8 minutes. It serves the whole upper mountain. The Shooting Star HS6 serves a handful of runs including some of the "harder" trails and glades. It is never crowded. It is right at the top of the Sunrise HS6 that comes out of the Sun Bowl. The Snowbowl FGQ serves a wide variety of terrain and there is never a line. Sometimes it might be worth riding this lift vs the Ursa if the Ursa is crowded. The Snowbowl chair has the most issues with the wind. It is on the most northernly side of Stratton and is the coldest lift. It has the same vertical (about 1350 feet)as the Ursa.
The lower section is served by the American Express HS6 and a couple of other fixed grip quads. It has about 650 vertical feet of fun and mellow trails. The snow can be excellent on the lower mountain as it is always warmer and less windy than the upper mountain. If you are skiing on a powder day, lots of the lower mountain will be untouched.
The SunBowl has the Sunrise HS6 serving a ton of wide, blue, cruisers. This area is also the warmest area and most wind protected.
A competent intermediate can ski most of the black trails at Stratton. There are a few areas on the black trails that can be dicey if there is a lot of ice from traffic and conditions. The few double diamonds are not that difficult if you regularly ski diamonds. Some fun trails are Frank's Fall Line, Upper Spruce, Upper Slalom Glade, Upper Middlebrooks, Bear Down and World Cup. Tamarack is a great trail, but hit it early as it quickly turns into Ice-arack. Freefall is another fun trail, but it has a loooooong flat run out to the Sun Bowl Base.
There are glades spread all over the mountain and they are lots of fun. They do get skied out, depending on how easy they are to access.
The base areas can be very crowded at lunch. Your best bet is to break for lunch at about 11:15.
Stratton is a lot of fun.
We had a great weekend at Stratton. On Saturday, there were many trails ungroomed and bumped up. The snow was excellent. The woods were back, although some of the more popular glades were skied out. Sunday was less crowded and the snow did not get skied down to the base. The Ursa 6 lost its electric motor and will now be running on diesel for the rest of the season. It is much slower.
We had a great bluebird day today at Stratton. Most of the mountain was firm until 10 to 11. The Sun Bowl and the Kidderbrook areas softened up first, followed by the Ursa area and the base area. The Snowbowl area was firm all day. The trails and lifts were mostly ski right on.